Right around the time Americans were preparing their turkey last week, Sharon sailed to Fiji. Or at least she did in the progress of this manuscript.
Last week, I sat in the CMU library (it’s a quiet, air-conditioned escape from the neighbors who have banged and drilled on a house extension for the past month) going through transcriptions of our conversations, reading about Sharon’s encounter with a kind Fijian who invited her home for curry. So I got sidetracked with the imagined scents of a curry I’d never tried. How to make it? I was curious.
With not much digging, I uncovered a recipe here, which I altered to suit the ingredients we had in the fridge. I was trying to empty the kitchen before leaving for Cambodia. We had lots of veggies and all the right spices. Though I made a vegetarian curry, I suspect this recipe would work very well with meat. Here goes:
8 cloves garlic
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons fenugreek
2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
3 tablespoons curry powder (I used a Malaysian chicken curry powder)
hot red chilies to taste
chopped cilantro leaves
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt
whatever veggies you like, chopped (I had okra, purple eggplant, onion, yellow bell pepper and tomatoes)
Using a mortar and pestle (or food processor), mash garlic and salt. Add a bit of water to form a paste. Add cumin, fenugreek, coriander, mustard, curry and chilies. Pound until thoroughly mashed, adding water if necessary to form a paste.
Next, toss a sliced onion into a bit of olive oil and a pinch of the curry paste and cook until brown. Add the remaining paste, the cilantro leaves and enough water to cover the mixture; bring to a boil. Toss in your veggies and cook until tender, adding more water if necessary. Add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors. Just before removing from heat, stir in the yogurt. Top with additional cilantro leaves.
Then: dream of Fiji.*
*And you might have vivid dreams after eating this curry. I don’t know if any of you experience this same effect, but the night after a good pungent curry, Jerry and I often sleep fitfully with wild, Technicolor dreams.